Indiaâ€™s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has carried out the first flight of a Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) using an indigenously developed Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS), the state-owned aerospace and defence company announced in a statement on 31 January.
â€œThe maiden flight was flawless and [the helicopter] flew for 20 minutes with the engagement of the system throughout,â€ said HAL. It added that the indigenous AFCS was set to replace the imported system used in the long-delayed attack helicopter, which was still under development. The test was carried out on the LCH Technology Demonstrator-2 (TD-2).
The recently developed AFCS was described by the company as a â€œdigital four-axis flight control system capable of performing control and stability augmentation functions and auto-pilot modes of helicoptersâ€.
HAL also pointed out that it had indigenised the Integrated Architecture Display System (IADS) on the 5.8 tonne, twin-engine LCH with the participation of private Indian companies, adding that development flight-testing was being progressed.
HAL sources told Janeâ€™s that fitting the LCH with both of these locally developed systems would â€œsubstantiallyâ€ reduce the platformâ€™s cost. The price negotiated for the first 15 LCHs ordered in December 2017 by the Army Aviation Corps (AAC) was INR2.31 billion (USD 3.39 million) per platform.
The AAC has indicated a requirement for 114 LCHs while the Indian Air Force (IAF) aims to receive 65.